Moving and installing valuable works of art is a job best left to the experts. We talk to Convelio about the delicate issues involved.
Convelio, founded in September 2017 by art aficionados Edouard Gouin and Clément Quizille, is described as a “full stack digital freight forwarder” specialising in shipping high-end and luxury goods across the world.
The duo began their careers in the tech sector before discovering their passion for interior design, and now promote Convelio as a “click-and-buy” experience tailored to international dealers, interior designers, auction houses, e-commerce websites and private individuals who want to ship antique, art, design and other valuable goods in Europe and worldwide.
We asked Edouard and Clément to fill in some background.
A&C. How did the idea behind Convelio evolve?
E&C. “Our background is in e-commerce, then the interior design industry, where we quickly realized that the discovery experience through online channels was getting better, but fulfillment was still a nightmare. Shipping a valuable object was, and still is, incredibly cumbersome. The 2018 Art Trade Report by Hiscox says that it comes as one of the top three biggest challenges in growing the online art market, with 37 percent of art buyers naming the complications around artwork shipping as their main obstruction to buying art online.”
A&C. How has the global art market been affected by the boom in online sales?
E&C. “The rise of e-commerce allows for an easier discovery of items, and the art market is no exception to this with platforms such as 1stdibs or Artsy and major auction houses making significant investment in online initiatives, or at the very least digitizing their auction catalogues. But e-commerce in the art market is lagging when compared with most other industries, with fashion leading the pack. To remain relevant, art market players must develop a dedicated digital strategy.”
A&C. Which territories are seeing the greatest increase in business?
E&C. “From our perspective, a lot of the merchandise leaves from Western Europe (primarily France, Italy, Benelux and the UK) to go towards the US. The US still seems to be a stronghold when it comes to art for two reasons: the concentration of wealth as well as a favourable regulatory environment. The US is also the country with the highest share of art buyers worldwide and holds the highest global share of the auction market. When you look at the statistics, it’s pretty clear that the three largest markets are the US, China and the UK, accounting for 83 percent of total sales by value in 2017.”
A&C.What are the problems Convelio aims to solve?
E&C. “Our goal is really to make the international shipping of complex works of art—due to their size, fragility and high-value—easier for any art buyers or sellers. In this order, we focus on 1. Quality, 2. Quoting speed, 3. Cost. Quality is essential given the kind of goods we transport—so there is no compromise on the matter. Then, speed and cost are where a lot of new things can be done.”
A&C. What services can Convelio now offer its customers?
E&C. “On the shipping itself, our services includes everything. Unlike a classic freight forwarder, we do not subcontract to tens of different transport companies. We actually work hand-in-hand with a restricted number of very carefully selected small companies, who we audited and know by heart. For any bulky, fragile and valuable item that is too complex to be shipped through the classic mail services, we offer end-to-end logistics service, including packing at collection, bespoke wood-crate and customized protection for export, air and sea freight service, custom process handling, ad-valorem insurance process and last mile delivery with two options: either classic front-door delivery, or premium white-glove service with unpacking, and installation.”
A&C. What particularly challenging assignments has Convelio dealt with?
E&C. “We are used to shipping items ranging from one-block marble tables, rock-crystal chandeliers, a murano glass luminaire disassembled in 200-pieces, 1-tonne bronze sculptures, to 18th Century Chinese wind-screens. It takes a real expertise to know how to pack and transport such complex and high-value items.”
“When we had to ship a Picasso ceramic, we built a wood crate with made-to-measure compartmented foam protections inside to make sure this masterpiece was in the safest place while traveling—and the process is the same for each item we ship. Every packing is fully adapted to the product form and fragilities.”
“We are incredibly grateful to work every day with a hands-on, passionate team and partners doing their best at all time to satisfy and empower our clients. There is still a lot to be done, a lot to be improved and even a lot left to challenge. But we are well underway on our journey towards building the logistics backbone of the art world.”